I'm currently a student at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a Certified Holistic Health Coach, and enjoying learning about different lifestyle and dietary approaches, like the Nutritarian Diet by Joel Fuhrman. I’m not a fan of quick weight loss diets and never have been, since we all know they're overrated, to say the least. I’m more interested in helping people finding a way of eating that will help them reach their optimal weight, while still eating clean, very nutritious, and satisfying foods. Enter the Nutritarian Diet! The reason I like this diet so much is it isn’t about counting calories or limitations, but more about adding in nutritious foods, to crowd out the poor choices or lower quality foods. Looking at the diet itself, I realize that I’m a “nutritarian” myself, and have been for about 10 years now. I adore how healthy foods works in our bodies to give us more energy, a better mood, and our happiest weight. This being said, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the most interesting points of the Nutritarian Diet in case you’d like to learn more about how it can benefit you. Plus, I can promise you won’t be lacking in food choices, or restricted to eating boring pre-planned meals. Check out some points of the Nutritarian Diet, and start trying new ideas behind the diet this week. In just a week you’ll be on your way to becoming a nutritarian too!
1. Quality over Quantity
Joel Fuhrman, who founded the Nutritarian Diet, did so to emphasize the quality of our foods over the quantity, which is the number one thing I preach to people. Every time I get asked about how to lose weight, I always tell people the real secret is a clean diet rich in qualitative foods. Sadly, no one really wants to hear that and would rather me tell them that pill "XYZ" is all they have to take instead. A diet pill, trendy fat diet, or restrictive diet will never be the answer to health or long term weight loss. What will, though, is choosing quality foods like vegetables, whole grains, low glycemic fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, wild fish, and high quality eggs. The quality of these foods is far greater than the nutrients found in meat, poultry, sugary foods, refined grains, animal saturated fats, trans fats, oils, and processed foods. Eating more nutritious foods will naturally crowd out the bad foods, and fill you up without filling you out.
2. Choose High Quality First
The trick to the Nutritarian Diet is to consume more high quality foods first every time you eat. This means eating more vegetables and fruits as you first choices, which rank the highest in nutritional quality. This helps you fill up on low calorie, yet high quality foods before adding in higher calorie, yet still high quality foods such as nuts, seeds, grains, fish, or eggs. The diet does not eliminate meat, fat-free dairy, or oil, but doesn’t advise eating it, and places it last as the healthy choices of whole foods. The idea is to choose the highest quality foods first (plant foods), so you’re not even hungry for the low quality foods like red meat, dairy, and oil.
3. Nutrients Dense Status
One way to figure out how healthy a food is, based on its “nutrient dense” status, is to determine how many micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals) it has per calorie. Lucky for you, the diet does that for you by showing you fruits and vegetables are your top choices. After that, macronutrients like fat, protein, and dense sources of carbohydrates are the next focus to ensure you get enough calories, while still choosing the healthiest sources of these foods.
4. Toxic Substances Are Avoided
The obvious benefit of the Nutritarian Diet is that it eliminates all toxic foods, or at least the most toxic foods. No sugar, conventional meat, alcohol, processed foods, conventional dairy, refined grains, excess caffeine (besides one cup of coffee or green tea a day), additives, preservatives, or artificial sweeteners are allowed on the diet. This means you’re automatically choosing the absolute best foods you can eat, while eliminating all the toxic substances out there. Without toxins your body can burn fat fast, and help you maintain a healthier life.
The Nutritarian Diet is very healing to the body, in just about every aspect you could think of. It is free of the bad stuff, and full of the good stuff. For this reason, the body has time to regenerate itself and reduces the inflammatory response so many people suffer from. When cellular inflammation is reduced, everything from heart disease, to joint pain, to acne, food addictions, and weight gain will be eliminated or reduced greatly.
One of the best things about this diet is that it eliminates the main causes of most health-related diseases. By eating this way, cholesterol is reduced dramatically, arthritis can easily be eliminated, energy increases, as does weight loss, which reduces the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
7. Hormonal Balance
This diet is also excellent for your hormones, which is so important today, especially for women. Many times, depression, menstrual problems, mood disorders, and even eating disorders are all related back to hormonal issues. By removing excess hormones from meat and dairy, along with eliminating sugar and refined foods that upset hormonal balance, the body is better able to reach its natural hormonal state, just as it prefers to do. You can’t lose weight unless your hormones are in balance, nor can you brain chemistry work properly. Hormonal health is one of the most important things to consider for your short term and long term health. The Nutritarian Diet is a guaranteed way to balance your hormones for life.
8. Low Cholesterol
Instead of focusing on fat-free or low-fat, try eating low cholesterol. This diet contains mostly all plant foods, which are naturally cholesterol-free. Even high fat coconut oil or dark chocolate (not milk chocolate) are all cholesterol-free. Low cholesterol foods improve arterial health, as well as reduce oxidative stress and high blood pressure. Eating a low cholesterol diet is easy with the Nutritarian Diet, since this diet is automatically very low in cholesterol, and cholesterol-free if you avoid eggs and fish.
This diet is not high protein, high carb, or high fat. It’s also not low protein, low-carb, or low-fat. It’s a very balanced way of eating, because as long as you choose the most nutrient dense sources (fruits and vegetables) first at each meal, you’ll naturally eat a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates the way your body was intended to do.
My main advice for anyone looking to follow this diet is to fill your plate with half veggies and fruits (not all fruits), ¼ cup whole grains, and ¼ cup your choice of protein, whether that be beans, legumes, eggs, or fish. Vegan protein powder also counts, but eliminate all animal sources of protein powder if you can. Whenever you buy a food, consider its nutritional density. Does it contain added ingredients like salt and sugar? If so, it doesn’t belong in your diet. If it’s generally a clean, whole food then yes, it can be included and be enjoyed. This is the way of Nutritarian eating and one I think is a simple approach people can get on board with, and eat healthier with for life. Have you heard of the Nutritarian Diet? What do you think about it?